By Charlie Mbonteh
The good citizens of this country got up one day and were told to stop using the word province. Regions came in by decree! Nobody stopped to think and ask what was different! Everyone like sheep behind their leader went along. Those who dare question did so in private. Regions should come with autonomy and improved good governance. Regions should elect their Governors and regional representatives. This will increase participation, ownership and sense of belonging.
When people feel that something is theirs, they will became more concerned how it is managed (think of our tribal meetings or "njangi"). Elected Regional Governors will enjoy legitimacy from the electorate. They will enjoy popular support and therefore they will be more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the population. They will be accountable to the population (electorate) because the vote can be used as a sanction!
Regions will make sense when there is regional representation into professional schools (ENAM/EMIA/ Ecole Normal/CEFAM etc). The State Budget should be allocated per Region with some of it earmarked for the central government. The central government should play a facilitating/enabling role, allowing healthy competition between Regions that will serve the purpose of grooming grounds for national leadership.
Regions should be able to synchronise government technical services to make them more efficient and responsive in terms of the supply of basic services.
Regions should be able to use the constitution (only one…. please) to produce by-laws that govern behaviour within a Region. For example, Regions could tax beer (FCFA 1000 per bottle) and cigarette (FCFA 1000 per pack), use the revenue generated to build roads, bridges, markets, sport complexes, and to acquire processing equipment for mechanised farming!
Regional by-laws will also reduce nepotism, corruption and cronyism. These by-laws will be drawn to put checks and balances on such abuses.
Maybe I am a dreamer, but it is better to dream than not! Though born on the wrong side of the border, some of us believe in the Cameroon of the day after tomorrow!